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London Assembly member backs fashion trade ‘penny tax’ to solve East End fly-tipping crisis

PUBLISHED: 10:03 20 February 2019

Council workers clearing packaging dumped in Whitechapel which led to flytipper being fined after he was caught on CCTV. Picture: LBTH

Council workers clearing packaging dumped in Whitechapel which led to flytipper being fined after he was caught on CCTV. Picture: LBTH

LBTH

MPs are calling for a tax on the fashion industry to cope with dumping on the streets which could add a penny on every item produced by east London’s traditional garment industry.

London Assembly's Unmesh Desai visits Brick Lane, traditional home of East End's clothing industry, calling for end to 'throw away' fashions. Picture: Mike BrookeLondon Assembly's Unmesh Desai visits Brick Lane, traditional home of East End's clothing industry, calling for end to 'throw away' fashions. Picture: Mike Brooke

The call came in a report by Parliament’s Environmental Audit committee to end the “throw away” culture of fast turn-round fashions.

The move has been backed at City Hall by London Assembly member Unmesh Desai whose east London constituency includes the traditional manufacturing home of the clothing trade.

“This is a wake-up call to provide the means for customers to recycle unwanted clothing,” he said.

“We are seeing the scourge of clothes being dumped on our streets, contributing to fly-tipping.”

Nearly 7,500 fly-tipping incidents were reported to Tower Hamlets Council between 2017 and 2018 alone, according to latest figures.

“We have a responsibility to ensure our public realm is kept clean,” Mr Desai added. “But the MPs’ findings show that fashion retailers also have a substantial role to play to tackle this issue.”

He is calling on the government to create “a circular economy” where clothing is automatically recycled after use, rather than being discarded or incinerated.

Fashion retailers and manufacturers could be forced to pay a levy on every garment sold, under plans to reduce the 300,000 tonnes of clothing that is incinerated or dumped in landfill sites in Britain every year.

Companies using packaging face a tenfold increase in the annual amount levied on them towards paying for collecting and recycling.

The East End has had a ‘rough history’ of dumping and fly-tipping blighting the streets.

A fly-tipper in Whitechapel caught on Tower Hamlets Council’s CCTV dumping cardboard packaging on the pavement in Myrdle Street was fined nearly £500 at Thames Magistrates Court in 2017 when he was also ordered to pay for clearing up his mess.

The council piloted a scheme in 2016 putting barcodes and phone numbers on street signs around Bromley-by-Bow, Millwall and Stepney Green, for the public to report fly-tipping by scanning the location codes on lamp-posts or sending a text. The council previously set up a telephone hotline in 2013 to deal with dumping.

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